You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope some day you’ll join us
And the world will live as one
- John Lennon, “Imagine”
Over the weekend, I saw a headline about Lynda Frederick, a 42-year old woman bullied during her time in high school who wrote a poem to her classmates about being bullied on the Facebook page for her high school class reunion. This morning, I investigated further and read this story in the Huffington Post, as well as a few other articles online about her and her poem. Her former classmates were so moved, some coming forth with apologies and raising money for her to travel and attend the reunion.
- Head in the Clouds by Wings of Dust
How many times have you been told that you don’t pay attention enough, aren’t aware enough of your surroundings, or even worse, that you have your “head in the clouds” all the time? I heard this quite often, especially as a teenager and coming from my absolutely favorite aunt (NOT!). If you remember my post from a while back that talked about EMSs (early maladaptive schemas) and negative core beliefs, you’ll remember that sometimes we form these beliefs based on negative feedback from significant figures in our childhood – parents, relatives (well-meaning or not) and the like. So as a result of her negative comments, I developed a sort of hypervigilance which basically required me to pay attention to everything in my environment. Literally.
You can imagine that for someone on the autism spectrum, this would be downright tiring. And it was. I was constantly scanning my environment for details, dangers, etc., especially when I would move from one environment to the next. It would take me a while to get comfortable when I arrived into a new room, got out of the car and went into the house, and so forth (you don’t want to even know how taxing it is to try to notice EVERYTHING – including passing scenery – when you’re in a moving vehicle as a passenger). When I was in my early twenties, I dispensed of this habit: unfortunately, some events in my mid-twenties reactivated a healthy (again, NOT!) dose of post-traumatic stress disorder that I had mostly gotten rid of with help from my fiancé – the same PTSD I’ve mentioned that I am battling right now. And with the PTSD came the hypervigilance and the environment scanning. The only good thing that has resulted from this is my tendency to store visual details, which I can access later for my writing.
I recognized near the end of last week that this practice was downright exhausting and no longer worth my time, so I decided to stop completely. I decided that I was only going to pay attention to what was important, or what caught my notice. And couple of days later, this new approach paid off. Continue reading
In my ongoing research, I recently found an article from the Workplace Bullying Institute about self-defeating stigmas held by adults bullied in the workplace. While reading the article, I began to think about my own experiences with workplace bullying and recognized some of my own shame about it.
Then, I thought about autistic adults and workplace bullying as a whole. According to a 2010 survey by the WBI, 35% of workers have experienced bullying firsthand. With estimates of autistic children being bullied as high as 90%, it’s not hard to imagine that many autistic adults have been bullied as both children and adults. And if what the WBI call a “silent epidemic” is distressing to neurotypical employees, you can imagine what kind of pain and distress it might cause for an autistic employee.
Last I checked,
I wasn’t born with apologies – though some would demand
that I wear them for the apocalypses in my DNA.
(From my poem, “Dear Earthling”)
After a bit of a hiatus, I am coming back to you with a post about something that has profoundly affected me for a long time, although I didn’t realize it until earlier this year. To put it another way, I live at the intersection of AS and PTSD.
Now, what do I mean when I say this? For those of you who have been following my blog, you know that I’ve spoken of my childhood and teenage years, which included physical, emotional, mental, and sexual abuse, as well as neglect – most of which happened between ages twelve and eighteen.
I don’t mean literally. Yes, I know all about the birds and the bees. What I mean to tell you is how I came to the realization that I have Asperger Syndrome.
The very beginning of the story starts about a year ago. I had been struggling with outbursts, panic attacks, and temper tantrums on and off throughout my life. Somehow, I managed to get to age 26 with only a few major incidents (and this is even through an unstable childhood, plus physical, emotional, and sexual abuse throughout my teenage years — but that’s a whole ‘nother story). By this time, I had already met and been with my fiance for about two years. But some major events in our life began causing a great deal of stress on both of us. This is when the panics attacks and meltdowns began. Continue reading